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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 06:21 GMT
Players behave in Europe - Poll
By Chris Whyatt

Graham Poll and Fernando Morientes
Poll refereed Champions League semi-finals - but never a final

Former international referee Graham Poll says players are better behaved when playing in European competitions than in the Premier League.

"They're more respectful because they recognise they're being refereed by one of the elite referees in Europe," Poll told BBC Sport.

Now retired from refereeing, Poll believes familiarity breeds contempt for players in the Premier League.

"Players see the same refs all the time. They have an impression of them."

You are taken to fantastic restaurants and you are treated on a par with a professional footballer

Graham Poll

This season in the Champions League, red cards have been handed out approximately at a rate of one in every 17 games.

In the Premier League, where Poll says the pressure on referees is far more intense, there is a red card in nearly one in every 12 games.

"Regular performances in the Premier League are far more difficult to maintain [for referees]," he said.

"To find that consistent level when you are under constant scrutiny is harder than it is nipping off to Spain once a year, and Italy and Germany once every year.

"Talk to [Premier League] players about why they can behave so much better when playing for England or in the Champions League... their behaviour is very different."

Poll, who refereed at two World Cups as well as notching up 329 Premier League matches and 43 Champions League games, says the treatment of officials is far superior in Europe than it is in England.

"A referee's standing is far higher in Europe than it is in England - referees are treated much, much better off the field abroad than they are here," he said.

"You are taken to fantastic restaurants and you are treated on a par with a professional footballer.

"You become almost like a little celebrity if you like.


"I'm not saying you want to be famous, but you treated with that respect. You are revered when you go abroad."

Perhaps best remembered for showing Croatia's Josip Simunic three yellow cards before sending him off at the 2006 World Cup, the 44-year-old points out referees in Europe have reached the pinnacle of their profession.

"You are seeing the elite referees of Europe doing these games and not having major contentious issues," he said.

"You have got the best referees doing the best matches - and that's how it should be."

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When Graham Poll decided to quit
04 Jun 07 |  Football
Referee Poll confirms retirement
29 May 07 |  Football
Refs' chief denies Poll will quit
11 May 07 |  Football
Ref Poll sent home from World Cup
28 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
Poll escapes sanctions
24 Apr 04 |  Football


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